Standing room only at Frack Free public meeting in Totland

There were two meetings this week hosted by the Frack Free Isle of Wight campaign group and two more coming up next week too.

frack free public meeting in totland

Thanks to Morgan for this update from Isle of Wight Frack Free. Ed

More than sixty people gathered in Totland Church Hall on Tuesday night for a public meeting to learn more about the prospect of oil and gas drilling on the Island.

A presentation covered what has happened so far in the licensing process, the actions of the national government in support of the industry, the Island’s geology, and details on the differences between conventional and unconventional drilling. It also described potential risks and benefits, including threats to human health, the local environment, the global climate, and how economic benefits may or may not reach Island residents.

Oil drilling plans well advanced
This meeting came after an announcement by UK Oil & Gas Investments PLC (UKOG) at the end of January that, “we are well advanced in our plans” to drill on the Island, firstly at Arreton.

The company has been awarded licenses for conventional and unconventional drilling in a 200 square kilometre area of the Island.

Hosted by campaign group
The event was hosted by Frack Free Isle of Wight, a group of individuals from all walks of life, committed to raising awareness of the local, national and global issues surrounding fracking and other fossil fuel exploitation methods.

The presentation was given by Sylvia May of Freshwater, a retired head-teacher, who said to the crowd:

“When I was in your shoes, in a meeting just like this last year, I began to panic. I panicked for weeks. I knew I had to learn more.”

Lively debate
The presentation was followed by a lively discussion, which welcomed a number of different viewpoints.

Hamish Wilson, of Cowes, former President of the Petroleum Exploration Society of Great Britain, said that while “I am not here to defend fracking,” he cautioned audience members to remember that the oil and gas industry are “not they, it’s we. We’re regular people, like you and me.”

“We have to think of our young people,” said Juliet Ketteridge of Totland. “The legacy of this is nightmarish. I don’t know if I can go home and sleep tonight. With the council given just 16 weeks to get their heads round this, it’s unfair when they are in crisis. They are only human. We’re a vulnerable Island, plump for plucking.”

Ketteridge was referring to a limit recently imposed by Westminster, designed to speed up the approval process for oil and gas projects.

Influence of national government on local decision making
Other audience members alluded to the undue influence of national government on local decision making, a concern that was raised by the council in a motion passed Jan 20 that described: “the Government has a clear policy in favour of fracking and should therefore be unable to take such planning decisions as there is a clear issue of predetermination by the Secretary of State”.

Philip Smith of Norton, Freshwater said,

“The elephant in the room is the influence of the oil and gas industry on our political process.

“People need to start making noise, not being passive as we’ve been brought up to be over centuries.”

Also in attendance was Nicholas Belfitt, of Shanklin, Vice-Chair of the Isle of Wight Liberal Democrats. He said,

“I’m a young person, I grew up on the Island, and when so many green things were cancelled I was very upset. This is short term gain for long term damage.”

Frack Free for an Ecozoic Isle of Wight?
The following night, on Wednesday, Ventnor Botanic Garden Friends’ Society hosted Frack Free Isle of Wight as part of their ongoing ‘Café Botanique’ lecture series.

The talk, titled “Frack Free for an Ecozoic Isle of Wight?” featured an abbreviated version of the public meeting presentation and a lecture from Morgan Curtis, of Freshwater, on her experiences as a climate activist in the US, UK and in Paris as a youth delegate at the historic UN Climate Conference in December.

Future meetings
Two more Frack Free Isle of Wight public meetings are upcoming.

The first will be at Yarmouth Community Hall on 3rd March from 6.30-8.30pm.

The second will be at Arreton Community Centre, 6th March 2-4pm.

All are welcome.

Friday, 26th February, 2016 5:45pm



Filed under: Government, Green Issues, Island-wide, Isle of Wight News, Top story

Any views or opinions presented in the comments below are solely those of the author and do not represent those of OnTheWight.

Leave your Reply

13 Comments on "Standing room only at Frack Free public meeting in Totland"

newest oldest most voted
Email updates?

I wonder how many of those people are THWART members? If they hadn’t prevented the turbines from going up on the Island, I doubt very much we would be a possible site for Fracking.

A very good point, Hermit. I am not aware of any overlap between membership of Thwart and Frack Free Isle of Wight. FFIOW is committed to realizing a just and sustainable future for our island, and speaking for myself personally, I would have loved to see wind turbines here. That said, we of course welcome those that were against the wind turbines to also be against oil… Read more »
We are not a likely site for fracking. There is enough oil not to require it, which is doubtless a disappointment to the anti-frackers. I might also point out that fracking in its various forms has occurred in the UK for over 50 years and that there are some 200 sites, including Wytch Farm in Dorset, Europe’s largest on-shore oil production site – not that you’d know… Read more »

Please detail the 50 sites! BTW Hasn’t Dorset CC banned fracking at Wyrch Farm?

I don’t know where each one is, but this is the BBC article quoting DECC’s figure of 200: WRT Wytch Farm, they had been fracking for years without upsetting anyone, but the government has now decreed that it can’t be done in a National Park, which applies to WF. Not sure how that works if the actual fracking is taking place, say, out at sea from… Read more »
Thanks for the link JamsP. You will note the Beeb report based on DECC ends “The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) stressed that Cuadrilla does not have consent to frack for shale gas in Balcombe, and the public would be consulted before permission could be given. “At the moment Cuadrilla are drilling an exploratory oil well in Balcombe,” said a DECC spokesperson. “Public consultation is… Read more »
Hi James – thank you for your comment. Do come along to one of our FFIOW public meetings – we discuss in detail the differences between conventional and unconventional drilling, laying out the impacts of each. Massive hydraulic fracturing may raise additional concerns of (even more) massive water usage and instability of our geology, but we are against all forms of new oil and gas wells for… Read more »
“we are against all forms of new oil and gas wells” At least you’re honest. This is nothing to do with fracking (which may not even be used here) – that’s just a convenient peg to hang this from. Modern civilisation relies rather heavily on oil and gas for most forms of transport and heating, not to mention manufacturing, both as a source energy and of materials,… Read more »

As you correctly repeated James, ‘new’ oil and gas wells. There is no suggestion that people could stop using fossil fuels for some time. Fracking is only part of the issue, but considering David Lenigas stated fracking could change the potential of Horse Hill and the IOW, that is not off the table either.


New oil and gas sources are required all the time. Perhaps it’s OK as long as it’s somewhere else, or you plan to do without transport, heating and a few other benefits…

Patrick Eden

This makes very interesting reading on the economics of fracking.
Top Drillers Shut Down U.S. Fracking Operations as Oil Prices Continue to Tank

Patrick Eden

Desmog? Oh dear… Naomi Klein, too!

Failure of the US oil industry plays right into the hands of the OPEC (middle-eastern) producers, whose plan it was all along.